Twenty-four Sonoma State University students traveled to New York City earlier this month to participate in Model United Nations, a program that brings nearly 4,000 students from 400 universities across the world. This year, Sonoma State’s Model UN earned a third place delegation award, marking the 10th award the university has won in the last five years.
Model UN is a program that invites students of all majors at Sonoma State to learn about foreign policy, debate and international relations while participating in a simulation of the United Nations. Typically, the program attracts students within the political science and global studies majors, though this year Model UN had students from a wide variety of majors like theatre and biology.
The program is both a club and a political science course at Sonoma State, led by the professor of political science and the program’s adviser, Cynthia Boaz.
“Historically, students who participate are mostly political science majors who have known about the program,” said Boaz. “In the last few years, I’ve tried to promote it outside of political science and even the social sciences.”
One of the two head student delegates of the program this year was Mercedes Mack, a fourth year, political science major. She sees Model UN as a program that instills not only critical thinking and collaboration skills, but something that teaches students exactly how the United Nations works, of which few understand.
“Model UN is the only way on campus to learn about diplomacy, international relations and the ins and outs of the UN system,” said Mack. “[Model UN] is a fantastic way to get critical thinking skills and teamwork and it is a fun and interactive club and class that I highly encourage everyone to participate in.”
Boaz credits the program with teaching students life and career skills that can help students in many ways regardless of their career and academic interests.
“I can’t see in anyway that Model UN doesn’t help [prepare students for their futures] in someway,” said Boaz. “Regardless of what someone wants to do in their life there are skills they’ve honed while being in Model UN that is going to help them. Whether it has to do with writing, speaking, communicating or collaborating – all of these things are translatable into the real world.”
Sonoma State’s Model UN represented the nation of Nigeria this year, which presented a range of issues because of the country’s ongoing political controversy. Though countless months of preparation, the students overcame the difficulties that came with representing Nigeria and achieved success.
“There are always people who flake or don’t put their heart and soul into the program and this year, every single person did,” said Boaz. “If I can keep bringing back delegations of this caliber, I will be very happy.”
In past years, Sonoma State has represented countries like Cuba and Venezuela, both of which brought difficulties because of the their political issues, according to Boaz.
“You have to be an expert on your country and your topic as well. So there is a lot you have to pack into the two month period leading up the to conference,” said Boaz. “We’ve always had a country that’s provocative or controversial in some way – and that forces students out of their usual perspective. In the last few years we’ve [represented] Cuba, Venezuela, Ukraine and Serbia.”
Boaz sees this year’s group of Model UN students as incredibly hard-working and credits this year’s success to their commitment and dedication that was visible in the many months of preparation.
For more information on Model UN, Students are encouraged to contact Boaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.